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Thursday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the world. In Earth orbit, a trio of U. S. and Russian astronauts closes in on a docking with the International Space Station. A rocket stage blow up last week injects new debris into Earth orbit. NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility looks to the Space Launch System for a post shuttle revival. Japan unveils plans for a human launch capability by 2022. South Korea is set for a third attempt to launch its own satellite. China plans to step up weather satellite launches over the next decade. Time Magazine names Marshall Space Flight Center astrophysicist Chryssa Kouveliotou among the world’s most influential in space matters. A U.S. space official envisions a future mission to Mars in which astronauts return with the Curiosity rover. Claims of a California meteorite recovery are reversed. Scientists find evidence of a past abrupt shift in the Earth’s magnetic field.
1. From Spaceflightnow.com: A Soyuz spacecraft with three U. S. and Russian crew members is scheduled to dock with the International Space Station on Thursday at 8:35 a.m., EDT. The capsule, launched early Tuesday, is carrying NASA astronaut Kevin Ford; cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin; and 32 Medaka fish — subjects in a biomedical experiment. The website offers updates on the rendezvous activities.
2. From Spaceflightnow.com: The orbital debris field around the Earth has grown more crowded with the Oct. 16 disintegration of a Russian Breeze M upper stage. The rocket body was part of an Aug. 6 launch that went awry with Russian and Indonesian communications satellites. The U. S. military is tracking the debris field which presents a new risk to a variety of satellites, including the International Space Station.
3. From The New Orleans Times Picayune: Job opportunities at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility are expected to increase as work on NASA’s Space Launch System accelerates, space agency officials tell a business forum. Activity at the facility that produced the space shuttle’s external fuel tank fell off as the shuttle program ended. That is expected to reverse with NASA’s decision to manufacture major components of the SLS, the big rocket that could start astronauts on future deep space missions, at Michoud.
4. From Space.com: Japan unveils plans to develop an independent capability to launch astronauts by 2022. The country envisions either a capsule or a space plane that can carry a crew of three, plus cargo. Japan unveiled its plans during an International Aeronautical Federation meeting in Naples, Italy earlier this month.
5. From the Yonhap Space Agency of South Korea: On Friday, South Korea is expected to makes its third attempt to launch its own satellite. Two attempts in June 2010 and August 2009 ended in failure. Though South Korea’s booster relies on Russian technologies for the first stage, the country has an ambitious rocket engine development initiative and envisions a fully independent satellite delivery system within the decade.
6. From Xinhuanet of China: China plans to bolster is space based weather monitoring with the launch of 11 spacecraft by 2020.
7. From The Huntsville Times: Time Magazine recognizes Marshall Space Flight Center astrophysicist Chryssa Kouveliotou as one of the world’s 25 people most influential people on space. She specializes in gamma ray bursts.
8. From The BBC: Astronauts on a future Mars mission may one day return to Earth with Curiosity, the rover that landed in Gale Crater in early August to study the red planet’s habitability.
9. From The San Francisco Chronicle: Just days ago, an expert identified a rock found at a Novato, Calif., residence as a meteorite, possibly from the Orionid meteor shower. Further scrutiny produced a turnabout — the rock is terrestrial.
10. From Discovery.com: The Earth’s magnetic field flip flopped not long after modern humans emerged in Europe, or about 41,000 years ago, a new study suggests. The flip itself is not unusual, but a second quick flip detailed in the study is.
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